Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Item girl By Richa Lakhera

The sky was miserably bleak. The hot air a blazing inferno. Like hell was leaking onto earth. Boiling hot cars inched along, mostly waiting for the others to inch on first, their inflamed tail-lights leaking red like cruel gashes. Even hours after the scorching sun disappeared, Mumbai’s summer nights offered little solace. The city contours dimmed into a gloomy dull grey hot smog, the air turned thick with haze. Power shortages had increased from 12 to an unbearable record of 20 hours.
Hot wind scorched Kabir’s breath as he got out of his car with his men, dried brittle leaves snapping under his feet. A lone sad dog morosely watched the men cross a garden patch to enter KD’s building. The apartment was locked, but luckily, the door’s locking mechanism opened inwards. He had been trained to handle that. Kabir stood with his legs apart. He knew exactly where to aim his kick. He had done it many times. After a few mule kicks, the wood began to splinter. As expected, the deadlock bolt extended only an inch into the door frame. With a final blow which seemed to shake the building, the door leapt back against the locks and hinges, the lock burst and the wreck of the door fell inwards on the carpet. His men stood back for a moment and Shinde peered inside.
‘It smells of shit. Hundred-year-old shit.’ Shinde said, breaking open the remaining stub of the door. The putrid interiors smelled of vomit and decay. There was bird poop and feathers everywhere on the floor. Pigeons had shat all over the furniture, their white and grey downy feathers spread like dandruff on the TV, the carpet, the dining table. Bird shit and filth and garbage… Milk cartons sitting out of the refrigerator in 105 degree temperatures. The table was littered with leftover food, mouldy and decayed, and that explained the revolting smell.
‘Yummy,’ coughed Holkar, trying not to inhale.
‘Looks like he grabbed what he wanted and left—in a hurry.’
‘Wait. What’s that sound? Running water?!’ a constable stepped into the kitchen and found himself standing in half a foot of stinking murky water.
Maashichi—where is this water coming—that’s strange! The sink has not backed up…? Where is the frigging leakage? Checked toilet?’
‘Water is dripping from the ceiling,’ Shinde said tracing the mildew growth on the wall, his eyes resting on a spot right on top of the hallway which was murky black and spreading.Standing on a stool, Kabir craned his neck to inspect.
‘That my friends, is the culprit. Water is dripping from the hallway ceiling down onto the soaking wet carpet. No wonder the house reeks of mould and mildew. Seems an added construction of some sort.’
‘Hold me up’ With the help of his men, Kabir stretched himself further and extended his hand to prod the crumbly, powdery roof. The ceiling was nearly featureless at first. It gave away unexpectedly and bits of the pink hallway ceiling disintegrated and collapsed to the ground. Kabir found himself staring at pinkish acoustical tiles peeking from under.
‘At least now we know! That’s not a pink carpet. That’s pink attic insulation! I think the ceiling collapsed under the weight and sogginess of the water. The entire floor is wet and stinky. We will have to watch our steps in the room above.’ Meanwhile, inside the bedrooms, it was much worse. Foul-smelling fetid water had reached the far end of the rooms and was wicking up the boards of the wooden bed. There was a kind of storage room out back, filled with dirty clothes completely coated in bird poop. The owner had enclosed the patio and made an addition room. A constable peered into the darkness.
‘Hey…I think I can make out stairs here!’ Gingerly watching his step, Kabir tiptoed through the little path to the doorway. The stench in the room was unbearable. Like something very sick was dying a slow painful death. The room was not as small as it looked.
 ‘There has to be a light here some—’ One of the men reached for the switch in the gloomy fetid darkness and their dismay turned to goggle eyed astonishment.
 ‘Finally bull’s eye! Sir come here!’ Kabir found himself staring at what appeared to be the medicine drawer. Inside it, in plain view, were cartels of drugs marked and labelled in neat stacks. Hallucinogens, antipsychotics, amitriptalines, anti-depressants and stimulants along with prescriptions for HIV treatment and painstakingly packed Quad pills, the new wonder drug for AIDS.
‘Heaps of coke-N, rave & Xplode and Xtzees…very popular party drugs. Legal. You can buy these online. No big shit…except this stuff thrusts our man into a major league dope pusher—quite an illustrious career Mr KayDee—!’
‘My theory is that there’s a lot of girls and boys that come to bollywood with a lot of dreams. And whenever you have a lot of pretty and hungry young girls and boys in one spot, it attracts every fucking idiot from all four corners of the world. Every douchebag, scumbag, scumsucker shows up and sets up shop and teaches them to snort and roll.’
‘Like Salem. Number one degenerate fuck up whose idea of bliss is being passed out in a hotel room somewhere with four scantily clad women.’
‘Pphissssss …oye Shinde?—Hey what’s this—it’s a ciggie or what?’ Shinde gave a rolled up cigarette to Holkar. A chain smoker, Holkar smiled widely in appreciation, his unflattering stained teeth beaming unevenly as he clutched the ciggy and lit it in a flash.
‘Easy Holkar!This is not—’
‘Shinde I know how to handle a damn ciggie—’
Before Shinde could stop him, Holkar took a deep drag, holding in the smoke for some time. The next instant, he began to cough frantically, his face red, he doubled up vomiting in the hallway.
‘You fool, you don’t know how to handle 45,000 an ounce 90 percent pure skunk—’
‘What’s happened to him?’ Kabir shouted.
‘He smoked that!!’
‘What the fuck is this? Are you a chootiya? Do you know what this is?? Take him out. Empty a bucket of water on his motherfucking head.’
‘He—Sir—Shinde—Vwwaackk—’ Holkar vomited again, staggering against the doorway.
‘What did you do, Shinde?’
‘I just asked him to tell me what it is? These ciggies—the bastard sampled it!’
‘Fucker it’s not a ciggie—it’s a snort stoked with god knows what crap! It’s to be taken in through the nose—not through the throat—take these samples for testing.’
Kabir was well aware about the pervasiveness of heroin and crack cocaine in the filmi circuit. ‘Gotta perform’, ‘need drugs for the creative edge’were chanted like a Darwinian theory of evolution and used as pretext for any and every drug abuse, from smoking grass, coke-N, rave &Xplode and Xtzees to popping amms, acids and meths to gulping quacks to shooting speed. The phrase ‘sex, drugs and stars’ was interpreted as a devastatingly successful advertising slogan for an exciting life, but Kabir was far from amused when the super-rich and glamorous turned their druggy excesses into fashionable behaviour>
He knew it always ended in a crock of shit. 


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